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J Am Heart Assoc. 2013 Apr 25;2(3):e000058. doi: 10.1161/JAHA.113.000058.

Prevalence of the American Heart Association's "ideal cardiovascular health" metrics in a rural, cross-sectional, community-based study: the Heart of New Ulm Project.

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Minneapolis Heart Institute Foundation, Minneapolis, MN 55407, USA.



The American Heart Association (AHA) recently created the construct of "ideal cardiovascular health" based on 7 cardiovascular health metrics to measure progress toward their 2020 Impact Goal. The present study applied this construct to assess the baseline cardiovascular health of a rural population targeted with a community-based cardiovascular disease prevention program.


The sample consists of 4754 New Ulm, Minn, adult residents who participated in either the 2009 or 2011 community heart health screenings offered by the Hearts Beat Back: The Heart of New Ulm (HONU) Project (mean age 52.1 years, 58.3% women). Data collected at the screenings were analyzed to replicate the AHA's ideal cardiovascular health measure and the 7 metrics that comprise the construct. Screening participants met, on average (± SD), 3.4 (± 1.4) ideal cardiovascular health metrics. Only 1.0% of participants met the AHA's definition of ideal health in all metrics and 7.1% met ≤ 1 ideal health metric. Higher proportions of women met the ideal category in all metrics except physical activity. Women over the age of 60 were less likely to meet the ideal category for cholesterol and hypertension than were men in the same age range.


Prevalence of ideal cardiovascular health is extremely low in this rural population. To make progress toward the 2020 Impact Goal, targeted community-based interventions must be implemented based on the most prevalent cardiovascular risk factors.

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